the elitism of “choosing abundance”

Staying at my parents’ home for a couple days, I’m finding myself anxious as I use their food. Here, I can consume anything I want without considering whether or not I’ll need it later on.

Times aren’t so tough back at home that we go without. But the echoes of a few years ago are still loud. Every penny still counts quite a bit. I’ve stayed in the no groceries challenge mode to some degree since I started it again in August. I’m going to re-boot and return to being “strict” about it when I get back to Maine.

My parents aren’t going to worry about my using the last of their coffee, or that I’m probably going to take a few of those gorgeous peaches with me when I leave. While my father still clips coupons and my mother feeds them nearly for free from the garden, a dollar here or a dollar there isn’t something they need to think about.

Visiting my closest friend this summer, I was struck by a similar feeling. Stephanie doesn’t have the same anxiety I feel, for example, about making sure I don’t let the crackers get stale so they’ll be fresh for my daughters’ school lunches. It’s simply not something she has to consider; she has enough.

This difference in relationship to “enough” isn’t just about food. Cleaning supplies, toilet paper, socks, all of these necessities are things that we can so easily take for granted.

Years before I experienced having so little that I wasn’t sure how I would feed my children, I spent time considering the idea that a feeling of abundance is within our grasp no matter our external circumstances. I’m talking about the Sark-like “live in joy” types of lifestyles. There is some truth to those ideas; our inner worlds do affect our experience of the external world.

My experience has shown me, however, that choosing to live in feelings of abundance is only possible when we don’t have to stop to think about the consequences of running out of dish soap or using up the last bits of the butter.


Filed under no groceries, socio-economic class

the convenience of privilege (no groceries challenge)

Continuing my “no groceries challenge,” I had to resist the temptation to replenish staples as I usually would. Typically, I keep on hand an extra jelly, peanut butter, olive oil, soy sauce, diced unsalted tomatoes, and other base ingredients. That way, when I run out, I’m not stuck missing a key ingredient. With my no groceries challenge, I must not buy anything unless I “have to.” That means, when I run out of peanut butter, I don’t go buy more, I just don’t use peanut butter.

My daughters are pretty amazing when it comes to enjoying food. I shared a plate of kohlrabi leaves sauteed/braised in bacon fat and balsamic vinegar and they devoured it. [Funny, as I was writing this, both were complaining about the lame choices for snacks…] That’s just one of the ways in which I’m (mostly) lucky. It’s one way the no groceries challenge could be more challenging, though, if my children balked more at “weird” foods.

Back to stocking up on staples. I think of the time when I had so little I couldn’t afford to keep that extra jelly, peanut butter, or olive oil on the shelf. When I ran out, I was just out. It’s just one more way that having money makes life easier. We can afford to not run out of staple ingredients; we can afford to use our time efficiently. It might seem a little thing, but running out of cooking oil and not being able to make the planned meal can—when life is overwhelming because of lack of resources—feel like an enormous burden. It could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

It’s amazing to realize how having a pantry full of extra staple foods is a luxury. Of course in so many cases, just having food is a luxury. Having the time and energy to cook is also a luxury. That said, doing these “no groceries challenges” continues to open my eyes to the many ways that having enough money makes life so so so much easier in ways far beyond simply buying groceries.









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Filed under activism, mindful living, no groceries, socio-economic class

we choose our battles

A good friend on Facebook is an activist for animal rights. Another spends her time fighting for the rights of trans* people. I also have friends who raise money for good causes, friends who focus their energy on their children, or use all their energy just getting through the day.

There isn’t time in the world to be an activist in every cause. We have to pick and choose where we spend our time.

Black and brown skinned people don’t get to choose whether or not racism affects them, but even they, to some degree, can choose how much time they dedicate to the “cause” of fixing our system.

I care about getting clean water to all the parts of the world where people are dying because they simply don’t have clean water. I care about stopping Apartheid in Palestine. Some issues spark my passion and some issues, like clean water and Palestinian rights, I have to put aside and say, someone else has to do that.

I was thinking this morning about how much #blacklivesmatter, #sayhername, and ending mass incarceration means to me. I wrote about realizing that people fighting global warming are also social justice activists. In that same vein, I want my friends to know that I recognize we choose our battles. I don’t judge you harshly for your apparent lack of interest. When we are watching our children play, or enjoying a potluck, or chit-chatting online, I enjoy you and your life with all of your varied choices.

I won’t be quiet about the issues that matter most to me, but I don’t expect you to make the choices I make. I respect your right to focus your energy in different places.

I believe everyone—and I mean everyone—does what they need to do to make the world a better place. Keeping lines of communication open feels more important to me these days than force feeding my beliefs into other people’s life choices. We are all in this together.








Filed under activism, friendship, mindful living

no groceries challenge, f’real this time

In July, I announced I was starting a new “no groceries challenge” for myself. Then my older daughter’s birthday came along and I just generally forgot about my challenge. I remembered enough that I thought about it when I went to the supermarket, but I still went. In fact, in July, I was over my groceries budget for the month.

Progress not perfection. I re-started. On August 6th, we got fruit, eggs, milk, and a couple other things. Yesterday, on the 13th, we got fruit, kohlrabi, bread, and salad greens. I haven’t been up to our garden lately so running low on fresh veggies during the summer has been weird.

Being back on the real no-groceries challenge has been exciting, again. I’ve had many, many times when I’m getting lunches packed up for summer camps and I think, shoot, I should go grab xyz and instead I find something already on my shelves. I’m being more careful about not wasting, too. For example, the not-eaten pita from camp lunch got toasted and will be used to scoop hummus.

Today I’m going to buy some bacon. We have some garden tomatoes, you see, so bacon is important. (Ha.) With the bread and greens I got yesterday, we’ll have BLTs for dinner tonight. Yum.

Then it’s back to no-groceries for as long as we can swing it. My finances are precariously low. The big savings plan I had been working on has had to be put on hold; I’m keeping the accounts active with their $5 balances. I believe I’ll get back to the place where I can save. In any case, choosing to not spend is so much better than not having the option. I’m grateful I have the luxury to make this almost a game.

The depleting supplies are making me think seriously about what I might bake or cook and freeze… we have leftovers from the birthday party make-your-own-sundaes and those could go into cookies… mmmm…








(this text is here to see if I can keep the ads photos from slamming up into my pretty photo)









Filed under newly poor, no groceries, socio-economic class

#blacklivesmatter #staywoke #sayhername and listen

My column—about keeping the violence against black and brown people in the forefront of our discussions rather than focusing on police good deeds—has elicited a response I didn’t expect. Even one of my closest friends who is a police officer read my column as a condemnation of his identity. I know what he thinks because I actually turned to my two LEO (a term I just learned, that means Law Enforcement Officer, for those of you who also didn’t know) friends for help. After so many “after this you’ll be out of luck if you call 911” types of comments, I needed to confirm that the police would continue protecting me. Even thinking that question for a few minutes has me still feeling shaky. And, yes, they both confirmed that public opinion doesn’t sway how they do their jobs. The pro-police people won’t turn violent, said one.

As so many people continue misreading my column as one being anti-police, or as disrespecting LEOs, I want to restate the actual point: we are living in a world where the news of violence against black and brown people is only just starting to be understood in the white world. White people need to hear and not dismiss or gloss over the realities of mass incarceration, including police violence. We need to recognize our systems are built on racism and we need to work to change it.

12 Ways to Be a White Ally to Black People, on
11 Things White People Can Do to Be Real Anti-Racist Allies, on


(note: the term “ally” is distasteful to me and I recommend not using it. the point of these links is to give concrete suggestions of actions white people can take in the fight.)


Filed under activism, racism